It’s no coincidence that I’m publishing this post an hour before many of you are settling down for your daily dose of Love Island…
I’m going to start with a disclaimer. I started watching Love Island when I was pregnant with the Cheltenham Bébé. I sat nestled in my heavily pregnant cocoon (my bed) and was utterly addicted to it. I’ve also watched all of the last two seasons since then. I’ve even managed to convert the Cheltenham Papa. I know how moreish it is and how relaxing it can be to switch all brain power into standby mode and quite simply lose yourself into the ridiculousness of these people’s lives. This post is therefore absolutely not a slaying of anyone who has been equally as obsessed. It’s merely an observation and as with anything that gets published on this site has no connotations of judgement for those who choose to either love or hate the marmite that is this fairly recent addition to everything that we love about British summertime.
Like many busy UK mums I was very excited when the teasers started appearing for this season. Fantastic, I thought, a few weeks (months) of losing myself to high brow conundrums over whether someone will be mugged off or pied and real worries over whether a contestant’s hair extensions will survive being thrown into the swimming pool. I settled in to the series nicely – half heartedly watching at first while I lacked commitment to both the show and it’s contestants and slowly as the episodes passed by starting to truly care about who was going to cop off with who first.
But then one weekday evening (pretty early on) I found myself sipping a glass of Pinot mid programme when a concern I wasn’t prepared for entered my mind. It was one of those thoughts that you can’t unthink and over the following days and episodes it has started to really tarnish my enjoyment of the show to the point where I thought… hmmm I probably ought to stop watching.
The moment in question was when contestant Dani was in the girls dressing room, in her pyjamas, crying over the fact that Jack had said he didn’t have feelings for her (in response to her saying exactly the same about him!) In that moment, with her layers and layers of makeup chiselled off and her vulnerability laid bear for all to see – she honestly looked about 13 years old. On reflection – she’s not the only contestant who looks or behaves that way.
I have boys of that age as most of you know and this moment of realisation hit me really hard. These people that have been couped up in this luxury villa with the goal of the game (the game that we are all watching every single night) being to race into sexually charged relationships where they are rewarded (by being voted to stay in) for behaviour such as admitting to falling for each other (on the second of third week of making acquaintance) or steamy snogging and heavy petting in bed, are (for the most part) really only moments out of childhood. In fact some of them are probably on an emotional intelligence level of a young teenager. They are vulnerable and all of a sudden I couldn’t quite shift the notion that this programme is only a whisker away from some form of soft porn where the actors and actresses are vulnerable young adults who have yet to even figure out what or who they want to be in life. Tempting them in to waxing themselves into oblivion and hopping into bed with the first person that catches their eye (or who doesn’t …. let’s be honest tactical bed hopping is a thing on this programme) with the promise of celebrity and a cash prize seems a little gross and my viewing pleasure has nose dived as a result. Most of the adult population of this country would pride ourselves on not tolerating the exploitation (particularly sexual) of children and young people in any way, yet here we all are with baited breath waiting to see which immature couple are writhing under the bedsheets next. I’m suddenly really confused.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m no prude… I remember being a teenager and a young adult (though skipped the promiscuity many people experience in their twenties due to early motherhood) and I get that most of the group (and I’m focusing mainly on the youngsters – so so far Dani, Georgia, Wes etc) will be getting all the sexy time whether they are the on the island or not. Sex and raging lust is all part of becoming an adult but I wonder if accelerating the whole process by trapping these kids in adult bodies into a fishbowl (and incentivising them with fame and fortune if they really let all there inhibitions go) for our viewing pleasure is something we may come to regret. I know it’s nothing new but at least Big Brother and reality competitions that have preceded Love Island didn’t revolve exclusively around love (aka sex).
But before you write me off as a terrible bore, full of myself and over the hill here’s the admission. I’m still watching the bloody thing. So this post…. why?
It’s about me asking for help to decide if that moment when I questioned myself and my motherly urge to protect poor crying Dani was a moment of madness or whether anyone else feels the same. I’d love to know what you think? Are you watching? Do you love it? Does the mere mention of it make your skin crawl and what do you think the reason is for that?
Thoughts on a postcard.